Ten years ago, Microsoft introduced the Windows 8 operating system, Apple launched its iPhone 5, tablets became popular, Instagram reached 100 million users, and ten years ago, RIGA COMM took place for the first time. As we approach the tenth anniversary of the RIGA COMM business tech event, let’s take a look back at its past.
‘Over these years, we have seen change not only in the technologies and the way people and organisations use them, but also in the event itself. RIGA COMM carefully monitors what’s happening in the field, adapting its content to the needs of businesses and its guests every year,’ RIGA COMM project manager Andris Breške said.
World’s youngest app developer from Ireland joined the fair
The first RIGA COMM was the right place for those interested in finding out what one day in the life of the world’s youngest developer of Mac apps is like, with 12-year-old Harry Moran from Cork, Ireland. Doing his homework, the teenager created his first app, the PizzaBot game. Even though people at Apple initially did not believe the age of its developer, his sausage-extermination game became so popular that it even overtook Angry Birds and Call of Duty in the Apple ratings.
First opportunity to try Google Glass
A year later, guests attending RIGA COMM 2013 had the unique opportunity to familiarise themselves with and try Google Glass. This tech wonder of the time was presented by Maximiliano Firtman, an expressive developer of mobile and web apps from Argentina. Notably, back then, the local tech expert and blogger Kristaps Skutelis spoke about the new technology, saying that although ‘it is rare now, it will be something we see everywhere in five years’.
European and global experts in innovation
Every year, RIGA COMM attracts its visitors with conferences covering various topics related to the use of tech in business, and improving the competitiveness of businesses. Experts in different fields and from different countries (such as Swedish futurologist Magnus Lindkvist, gadget hacker Nick Sohnemann, inspiring and provocative business expert Peter Fisk, and tech genius and visionary Philip Zimmermann) regularly shared their experience and expertise from four or five stages.
First-time cyborg visit in Latvia
The only officially recognised human cyborg, Neil Harbisson, participated in RIGA COMM 2014. A special cybernetic eye (an eyeborg) was surgically attached to Neil’s head to make it possible for him to see/hear colours (which are transmitted as sound signals), which he previously could not do due to an inherited condition. During the conference, Neil Harbisson talked about life in the age of cyborgs, and about how modern tech can turn the weaknesses you are born with into strengths, enabling people to enjoy their life in full.
Various exhibition areas to help Latvian ICT grow
RIGA COMM has had various exhibition zones over time, but digital transformation and technologies have always been at its core. For example, in 2014, RIGA COMM had an IT Job Market helping employers and job seekers meet, while progressive ideas could be found in the Startup zone; the Riga 3D Show zone offered the exploration of the world of 3D, from printing technologies to 3D objects in augmented reality. We did not forget about entertainment either! Visitors of the Gaming zone could see demonstrations of games by independent creators, find out about the inner workings of game development and its applications in business, and try the games themselves. The traditional place for finding out about IT and electronics innovations was the Innovation stand arranged by the Latvian Technology Centre and the European Business Support Network in Latvia and the Magnetic Latvia business incubator exhibition set up by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. For several years, one of the notable parts of the fair was the extensive consumer electronics exhibition created by the ICT solution, consumer electronics and telecommunications product wholesaler ALSO Latvia.
Unusual gadgets from all over the world
Five years ago, engineers, inventors and tech enthusiasts could use the Gadget zone at RIGA COMM to demonstrate and test the devices they developed. There, you could check out and try a smart umbrella that tells you if it is about to start raining, and reminds you about itself if lost; a smart padlock that you don’t need a key to open, as well as various remote-control devices, sensors, 3D goggles, bird-like drones, bodycams and other innovations.
Special support for small and medium companies
For several years, to help companies implement the latest technologies and solutions, RIGA COMM had a consulting project for small and medium enterprises in Latvia. It was a way to get business IT recommendations for your company, or a specific need or problem, quickly and all in one place, and to discuss these suggestions in person, comparing the approaches offered by different IT companies.
Leading Chinese hardware and electronics manufacturers presented their latest innovations
In 2018, RIGA COMM had an exhibition by hardware and electronics manufacturers from China. 49 of China’s most prestigious companies from Beijing, Shanghai, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Xi’an, Shenzhen set up an extensive 1068 m² exhibition, presenting their innovative technologies and products, smart city services, products and services in electric power, energy engineering, robotics and other fields.
Debuts of products and services created in Latvia
It is hardly a secret that RIGA COMM is the place for Latvian companies, and especially start-ups, to try and test their latest solutions. In 2019, the Innovation booth offered one of the first opportunities to see the Trauma Simulator technology by the digital health start-up Exonicus, which is virtual-reality software intended for training people in emergency medical aid; another digital health start-up, Vigobot, presented its digital therapy for rehabilitating stroke patients, Vigo.
From a minor IT event, to a big tech business fair and conference
During the ten years of its existence, RIGA COMM has grown not only in terms of purely quantitative indicators such as the number of participants, people visiting, countries represented, but also the quality and the scope of the topics that its content and conferences encompass. In its early years, the event was small, saw little recognition, and attempts were made to gauge the right format for it; today, RIGA COMM is a major business and IT event presenting ready-made and customisable ICT solutions for companies of various sizes operating in different industries. At the same time, its extensive range of conferences offers valuable information for all industry professionals and people interested in the topics.
We would like to thank our partners, participants and visitors! We are convinced that as we join our forces and help the industry grow, Latvia has all the capacity to become a leader in ICT.